She wakes up at 6 a.m., her inbox filled with 27 new e-mails
from the night before. The caterer has been booked but needs a list of
preferences, the florist is providing estimates, the host wants to know
about upgrading hotel linens. There's a meeting with a photographer that
afternoon, and the venue staff need a workable day-of timetable.
this isn't necessarily describing the typical day of a meeting planner.
It's also the daily grind of a wedding planner. And while the purposes
of the events are very different, the fundamental goals are the same: to
meet or exceed the expectations of the hosts and attendees.
and corporate events are so different -- but they're also so similar,"
affirms Cindy Shanholtz, owner of Chicago-based Effortless Events.
Brides want to have a meaningful gathering that, in effect, marks the
beginning of an exciting new phase in their lives -- and so do
corporations, she says.
On the following pages, wedding planners
offer their tips on creating remarkable, creative, one-of-a-kind events
-- all while dealing with demanding or jittery clients and limited
Define expectations Before a
wedding planner can start getting creative, he or she first must sit
down with the couple and find out who they are, what they're thinking
and what their priorities are for the big day. After all, creativity
needs a defined framework within which to thrive.
"I ask them a
lot of questions about what they want their event to look, smell and
taste like, how they want their guests to feel, what's important to
them. I'll get a sense of the client," says Michael Radolinski, owner
and principal event planner at New York City-based Michael Henry Events
The same approach, of course, applies to corporate
events. The corporate planner must fully understand the company's
culture and envision clear goals for the gathering -- whether it's
boosting team morale or increasing sales.
This is also key for
budgeting purposes. Wedding planners agree the best way to satisfy their
customers financially is to allocate money according to their
priorities. David Stone, director of catering and conference services at
La Posada de Santa Fe (N.M.), a Rock Resort, says he starts out by
jotting down absolutely every idea and desire the couple has, along with
the potential cost. Then he scale backs from there according to the
couple's priorities. So if the couple indicates that music is the
element that's most important to them, he will allot more money to the
music budget. That way it's all out in the open, there are no surprises
and the couple is getting the most bang for their bucks.